"I loaf and invite my soul," Walt Whitman proclaimed in Leaves of Grass.
As a picture of relaxed ratiocination Young Girl Stretched Out On A Bench is difficult to beat but I would not have given it a second look had I not read "The Guardian Angel" written by Neil Philip at Adventures In The Print Trade. Carl Larsson was a purveyor of sentimentality I would have said. Until recently, the equal contribution in every way to the Larsson enterprise of the artist - and Carl's wife - Karin Bergoo Larsson barely registered on most of us either.
The deliciousness of the scene is the first thing that suggests summer to me. The utter relaxation of the little dachshund lying along her side as the young woman reads the paper and cradles the cat, seems so unguarded and comfortable that it appears unposed. The suggestion of a tree frames the image, leading the viewer's eye toward the red pillow that has been upended into its most comfortable position.
The feast of diagonals on display here is organized in a harmonious hierarchy and that, I think, was deliberate. The green slatted bench is multi-colored within its narrow range while, on the other side of the white swath of the blanket, the irregularly striped cushion underneath her, complete with candy-striped fringe. The color red of the stripes near the top of the blanket join with the red printed cushion to outline the young woman in the green and white striped dress. To put all this into words makes it sound busy and stiff, which it is not. This may be Carl Larsson's masterpiece, I think.
Carl Olaf Larsson - Young Woman Stretched Out On A Bench, 1913, Louvre Museum, Paris.